Traditionally most Turks did their shopping in bakkals, sometimes called markets, small family-run grocery shops that sold staples such as rice and pasta alongside basic household goods such as matches and detergents.

Bakkals usually sold fresh eggs and a limited range of fruit and vegetables too. Turks also shopped in more specialist shops including the butcher’s (kasap), and the greengrocer’s (manav). However, most fresh produce was bought at the weekly pazar, a street market that would move around all the settlements in a particular area, with the biggest and most colourful pazar taking place in the largest local town.

In big cities every neighbourhood still has its bakkal but these have evolved into something more like convenience stores where people pick up the things that they forgot to buy in the supermarket. As elsewhere in the world, the more specialist shops are becoming an endangered species, seen off by the onward march of the supermarket.

For the time being you can still fight your way past great haunches of cow and piles of intestine to buy your chops, or steer your way round the garlands of dried tomato and okra that festoon shops catering for keen soup cooks, but as Turkey lines itself up with European Union health regulations, so more and more fresh produce is disappearing under plastic wraps, taking with it the evocative sights and aromas of the past. 

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